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Jazz Improvisation

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Try jazz improvisation through this practical, hands-on course, open to all abilities. Dick Lee will begin by introducing the general principles of jazz improvisation and illustrating ways of applying them. Students will then receive small group tuition from Dick, supported by the other members of the Dick Lee Trio; Ed Kelly on double bass and Fraser Urquhart on piano. Contributions from students will be encouraged and welcomed throughout the day. The class will be split into 3 groups: beginner, intermediate and advanced, to allow for more detailed work on preparing 2 items, a Blues and a Jazz standard, which will be performed as a group in the final session of the day.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Explanation and illustration of chords, arpeggios, the pentatonic scale, the basic jazz scale and the blues scale. How to compose melodies using these elements.

2. The 3 ability groups (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) will work on a Blues and a Jazz standard of their choice. Dick will offer rotating tuition to all three groups, with members of the Dick Lee Trio also supporting these sessions, rotating as appropriate.

3. Consolidation of learning so far and illustrated talk focusing on some of the great Jazz improvisers.

4. Each group performs 2 items, with every member having a solo unless reluctant to do so.

Teaching method(s)

As well as illustrated talks and demonstrations, Dick will offer rotating tuition to small groups, supported by members of the Dick Lee Trio. This will be a fun and immersive day culminating in an ensemble performance with, hopefully, plenty of improvised solos!

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Identify fundamental chords, arpeggios, scales used in Jazz music;

  • Improvise over chords and melodies using basic techniques in improvisation;

  • Play and perform as a soloist or in an ensemble.


Core Readings



  • Building a Jazz Vocabulary: A Resource for Learning Jazz Improvisation by Mike Steinel


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.